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Carts for Driving Llamas


For training, llamas and horses are initially hitched to two-wheeled vehicles, which are called carts. After adequate skills have been developed, both species can graduate to any of the numerous types of four-wheeled vehicles (front-axel articulating) if desired.

The ideal two-wheeled cart for equines or llamas is perfectly balanced when the driver is seated and the shafts are positioned properly in relation to the animal's body. This means that shorter or taller animals require a cart with slightly different balance.

Important! Proper balance does NOT mean whether the shafts APPEAR level!

For both species, a swingletree is necessary to eliminate harness chafing (buyer beware -- many cheap, so-called breaking carts don't have one).

Both llama and equine training carts benefit from wheels that are not too close together and a low center of gravity -- features that allow the cart to resist tipping.

The ideal llama cart does differ in some ways. Llamas in particular benefit from having a very light cart. Their body mass is much less than an equine of comparable height, and their musculature and skeletal design is not as conducive to draft. Larger wheels also reduce the amount of effort for draft, and this is important for the llama.

However, a llama's narrower body does not benefit from narrower shafts, as some have supposed -- the spinal column, which has less lateral flexibility than an equine's -- requires more room for the hindquarters to swing out through turns, and thus requires more width at the shoulder as well.

Adequately long shafts, of less consequence to an equine who trots and walks exclusively, are necessary on two-wheeled llama carts because llamas must canter at least part of the time as a concession to their inherent biomechanical deficits. Shafts that are too short dramatically increase the force on the llama's back during cantering and galloping, and also may result in restricted room for the llama's rear legs during cantering and especially galloping. Problems with shaft length most often occur when llamas are hitched to a mini-horse cart, to a poorly-designed cart of any kind with a square basket, or to a proper cart but with the traces adjusted too short so that the full length of the shafts is not utilized.

The first cart designed exclusively for llamas (also the first one commercially available), the Harmony Cart, is still the one we recommend. However, our highly modified pony cart (with added swingletree and larger wheels), with its somewhat lighter weight (from both original design and additional modifications) and wider shafts than the Harmony Cart, is still the one Dusty prefers -- despite the fact that Gwen and Jim certainly prefer the easy-human-entry design of the Harmony Cart.

Although the Harmony Cart is no longer made, an improved version, called the "Eagle Cart," is now available directly from llamatopia.com.

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